How Powerhouse Designer, Yuwaalaraay Girl Lucy Simpson Is Making Waves

I’ve lengthy admired the work of Lucy Simpson and her design studio Gaawaa Miyay (river daughter). Lucy is a Yuwaalaraay girl from northwest New South Wales who lives and works in Sydney. She was the primary Aboriginal designer/maker who I noticed creating materials and homewares in a uniquely South-Japanese type. The colors and motifs in her work echo these of my very own Nation, my very own tales.

I used to be flying into Sydney for a company occasion and organized to go to Lucy on my strategy to the lodge. The aircraft was delayed and delayed once more. It was a type of days on the airport the place all the pieces is off-kilter. I arrived two hours late and somewhat harassed. Dragging my suitcase to the pinned location, I discovered myself at a mechanics workshop in an industrial space not too removed from the Cooks River.

I smelt a bush scent, maybe a lemon eucalyptus candle, and adopted my nostril to an entrance across the nook. The day melted away, the noises exterior quieted, inside Lucy’s studio the peacefulness of Nation has moved in and made itself at house.

Bundles of lomandra dry on rusted iron frames and picket instruments carved by members of the family are positioned so lovingly, on a regular basis shelving exudes the class of gallery plinths. A big, framed picture of a nephew carrying a stone instrument adornment takes pleasure of place. My eyes are drawn to a terracotta coolamon and its earthy pink textures. I later be taught of Lucy’s relationships with Artedomus and Cotto Manetti for ‘Earth Wirri’- an trade of design, custom, and materiality.

We sit at Lucy’s massive timber worktable, the place she has positioned a group of freshwater mussel shells created for a collaboration with Canberra Glassworks. Gentle streams via a window and is caught within the textures of the glass. The shells have an ethereal high quality.

‘Mussel shells are recorders of time,’ she says. ‘You possibly can learn the ridges on the shells. When it was a superb season, you see progress. These is perhaps 60 years outdated. They’ll develop to be 100.’

Lucy explains; ‘The drought was Nation in trauma. At its peak I walked the deepest elements of the river and noticed tons of of empty mussel shells clinging to dry riverbanks and empty lakes. I didn’t realise the impact that might have on me as a freshwater girl. We’re folks of the river, however who’re we when there is no such thing as a river, no lakes? When the springs of our oldest tales not move?

Our phrase for flood plain is similar as Milky Method (Burrul Warrambool/massive watercourse). And we now have plenty of tales that train us concerning the essential connection between land and water. When the rivers and lakes overflow, land and sky turn into one. They create an ideal reflection of each other. These tales are about transition and switch. They remind us of cycles of life and states of being – of affection, household, abundance and connection. That yarn is actually written within the stars and etched upon the land. A narrative additionally related to the specialness of dhanggal (freshwater mussel).

I consider design as a direct dialog with Nation. A strategy to relate and join. The mussels bear in mind and talk to us totally different states of wellness. For me, there was a therapeutic that got here via the making of Baayangalibiyaay (with having stability and wellbeing within the pure world), and I’ve discovered consolation and power in remembering and connecting to these outdated tales.

To make the work we pressed the outdated shells collected from the riverbed into damp sand, after which sizzling glass was poured into the impression. The sand used for the casting course of was collected from the Shoalhaven River, the eventual website of the exhibition at Bundanon. That place was nonetheless recovering, nonetheless scarred from native bushfires and flood. So, the mixed story is considered one of hearth and water; of Nation in trauma from bushfire flood and drought. Equally, Nation additionally bares the indicators of therapeutic via regenerative follow. All these layers embedded and remembered within the glass types created.

I attempt to be taught one thing new with each undertaking I do. Glass is a brand new medium for me, however one which transmits this story fantastically. It’s fluid and fragile. It holds and displays. The fabric dialog of the undertaking started at Canberra Glassworks in an effort to recycle outdated tv screens. It’s a thick glass and has an optic property to it that causes it to amplify and play with mild. It’s fascinating materials.’

Lucy describes her work as each multidisciplinary and conceptual and she or he says that she likes to think about the designs and objects she creates as instruments.

‘The objects are tactile and have a operate. Typically that operate is to share a narrative. I find it irresistible when you’ll be able to hand a tactile object over, and another person is ready to relate and join; they then proceed so as to add and weave their very own experiences into that story. It creates which means and provides to that story. Good design does that. First Nations design and materials tradition is an ideal instance of that. Including worth and expertise via tactile connections and on a regular basis use.’

Lucy’s design follow is knowledgeable and grounded within the philosophies of what she understands First Nations design to be, and she or he is at present exploring this via her PhD research.

‘Nothing is ever wasted. Materiality and approach is regional and seasonal. Processes are responsive and strategies centre round reciprocity and regeneration. It’s not about particular person possession, and nothing was ever meant to final eternally (within the materials sense). Objects are created with the wellbeing of Nation and relationships at their core. We create from the earth; we return to earth. We proceed to be taught from the outdated ones and their principals of kinship, respect, and accountability in the present day.’

The final 12 months have been a busy time for Lucy, and she or he is happy to share the information of her newest collaboration with Australian clothes model JAG on their upcoming Spring/summer season assortment for 2023.

‘The vary centres on the tales and colors of place made by a wide range of mark making strategies and design processes for textiles’ Lucy explains. ‘Watercolour and portray, cyanotype and lino prints will document seasons and map the panorama.’

There will probably be a robust concentrate on sustainability and materials cyclability for the upcoming vary. Hero materials embody 100% European Flax Licensed linen and EcoVero viscose.

‘At JAG, we had massive yarns about our philosophies’ Lucy continues. ‘We spoke about seasons, of mapping and capturing the essence of place and our connections with it. Designs of nation, for nation.

Carrying Nation and talking the language of place, brings an consciousness; a bodily, tangible, dwelling relationship to position and a reminder of the obligations we maintain.

I’m honoured that I get to share my love of nation and story with others via my follow. It’s an awesome accountability and one that’s extremely valuable. For me, that’s the magic of design.’